‘Dateline: Trouble at 7-11 Ranch’ chronicles the details of the gruesome murder of Jake Millison at his family’s ranch in Parlin, Gunnison County, Colorado, which transpired in May of 2015. Years of investigations and court hearings have revealed that he was killed in his sleep and then buried in a pit, at the property itself, by members of his own family. All this was due to a long-lasting feud over who would inherit the $3 million ranch. And, in 2017, it all came close to a burning conclusion as Deborah Sue Rudibaugh, Jake’s mother, confessed to killing the 29-year-old by herself more than two years prior.
Who Is Deborah Sue Rudibaugh?
Deborah Sue Rudibaugh of Parlin, Colorado, split up with Jake and his sister’s father when they were just 6 and 7 respectively. Soon after that, she remarried a rancher two decades her senior, Rudy Rudibaugh, and moved into his 700-acre land. For a few years, she homeschooled her children, in part so that they had more time to help out on the property. But, after Rudy passed away in 2009, everything changed. Her children were grown up, but Jake was still living with her, and soon, money became a source of tension between them. He didn’t earn anything by working on the ranch because his future inheritance of it was supposed to be enough. Thus, every time he wanted to go out, he had to ask his mother for some cash. Frustrated by his position, Jake started working part-time, but he ended up giving most of that money to Deb, just to keep the ranch afloat.
And then, he disappeared. On May 20, 2015, when Jake’s friends first came to the ranch in search of him, Deborah told them that he, being a fitness buff, had gone to Reno, Nevada, to train at a mixed-martial-arts gym. She added that he wasn’t responding to their calls or texts because he had dropped his phone in an irrigation ditch and was forced to leave it behind to dry in a bag of rice. Her explanation didn’t soothe Jake’s friends for long, though, and so, they contacted the authorities. A week later, a patrol officer approached her, and Deb revealed that her son had taken off with a friend whose name she did not know. Then, after another week, she admitted that they had been arguing over their living situation for a while, and after a particularly bad one, he grabbed some camping equipment, a gun, a wad of cash, and left. She said that she no longer kept tabs on him.
The strangest thing, though, was that while everyone else seemed to be worried about Jake, Deborah showed no signs of anything being amiss – it was as if Jake hadn’t even existed for her. And, two years later, in July of 2017, when his body was found wrapped in a tarp and buried in a manure pile in the 700-acre wide land, it became clear as to why. Jake had been killed, and his family was responsible for it.
Where Is Deb Rudibaugh Today?
After some thorough interrogations, where it was revealed that, at one point, Jake had been Deb’s favorite, it became evident that the whole family – Deb, Jake, Stephanie, and her husband Dave – had been feuding over the $3 million ranch for quite some time. The family dynamic flipped when Deb started cribbing to Stephanie about Jake’s living situation. Steph, along with her husband, Dave, made full use of this and started convincing Deb to give Jake some tough love, by evicting him, so as to teach him independence. Apparently, it worked, as the investigators found an amended version of Deb’s will, dated three weeks prior to Jake’s disappearance, stating that everything she owned would now solely go to Steph.
After that, Deborah confessed that she was the one who killed her son. She said that she had been exhausted that entire May week, because of her night shift at the nursing home as well as her recent gall bladder removal surgery, so when Jake didn’t complete an errand that she had specifically asked him to do, she decided that enough was enough. She waited until he fell asleep that night and shot him in the head. Then, she rolled his body in a plastic sheet and used tow straps to maneuver it onto an ATV and into the pit. Deb insisted that her daughter and son-in-law had nothing to do with it. But, standing at 5 feet tall and being remarkably frail because of her health, it would have been almost impossible for her to do it on her own.
The investigators and Jake’s friends believed that Deborah, suffering from Stage 4 breast cancer that had spread all through her body, was just covering for her daughter, and maybe even Dave. After all, Steph was the only one who had everything to gain with Jake disappearing forever. Plus, the fact that neither Deborah’s stitches nor her health deteriorated in the days following the slaying was also an indicator. Despite that, Deborah maintained that she shot her son because she was worried that he might kill her first. In the end, when Jake Millison’s murder case finally went to court, Deborah Rue Rudinbaugh, in May of 2019, pleading guilty to the charge of second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 40 years in prison. In November of the same year, at the age of 69, she passed away in her jail cell.
Read More: Where Are Steph and Dave Now?